Not only is the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association's planned action to bring London grinding to a halt by gridlocking the streets today one of the most selfish pieces of industrial action I have ever heard of, but for me it's a reckless attack on our city that could easily cost lives.
As many as 12,000 licenced taxis are expected to take part in the procession of black cabs from 2pm.
Just because the LTDA doesn't agree with Transport for London's ruling that mini-cab app Uber isn't breaking the law by acting as an illegal taxi meter they have decided to punish their own customers and Londoners in general. The case has been referred to the High Court later this year, but that's not apparently good enough for the taxi drivers who seem to feel they are a law unto themselves.
SMEs and trades companies like Pimlico Plumbers rely on the roads for our survival. They are the commercial arteries of the Capital and without free access our business simply cannot function. Despite our frantic attempts to plan ahead as much as possible - unless we hire a fleet of helicopters there is no solution. If our customers have an emergency - a burst pipe, backed up toilet, power cut - we'll do our best to get to them as soon as possible - but thanks to these modern day highwaymen they'll just have to sit tight.
This persecution of its own customers (and ours) by the LTDA is plain and simple urban terrorism. But worse, I'm wondering where the buck stops when someone dies because an ambulance or fire engine couldn't get through the traffic?
Is today's protest going to change the court date of a High Court Judge's interpretation of the law? Clearly not! It seems to me that the drivers, or at least their LTDA bosses are a bunch of 21st century Luddites, intent on smashing any opposition to their century old monopoly.
Just a couple of weeks ago a rival app Hailo opened up to private cars, having been founded as a tool for black cabs, prompting a protest. But Uber and Hailo haven't gone out there solely to make things difficult for black cab drivers, they are delivering a service that is clearly in demand.
At Pimlico Plumbers we have to give our customers what they want in order to remain the best in the industry and stay ahead of the competition. People call us 'posh plumbers' because my staff take their shoes off at the door, put down a dust sheet and always have clean fingernails. Black cabbies should be shouting about the fact that all their cabs have disability access, hearing aid induction loops and vetted drivers so that female passengers feel safe - something Uber taxis currently cannot offer. The LDTA need to stop getting mad and start getting even.
Ironically, this is all fantastic PR for Uber, who are emerging from the chaos as modern and successful, and dependable to their customers, promising: "Uber is committed to keeping London moving. While the cabbies' protests may seek to bring London to a standstill, we'll be on hand to get Londoners from A to B."
Of course there's the estimated £125million that will be lost by businesses as a consequence of today's planned action, but money can be recovered, lives cannot. So as a Londoner I would like to appeal to the men and women of our city's iconic black cabs, who as a rule are loved by Londoners and tourists alike, to see some sense and call off this madness.
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